Diamond Bank Plc, said its strong focus on the Nigerian market, especially the retail sector through its technology led retail strategy to drive growth and position SMEs for competitiveness.

The bank in a statement to LEADERSHIP at the weekend, made this known following its third quarter (Q3) unaudited financial report for the period ended September 30, 2018.

Despite the challenging trading environment, the bank’s contribution of non-interest income to profit increased by 10.81 per cent from N24.66 billion, Q3 2017 to N27.32 billion in Q3 2018, while Impairment charges down 24.21 per cent from N33.21 billion to N25.17 billion in 2018.

Interest expense up 18.32 per cent to N41.26 billion year-on-year, but it has continued to decline in-line with guidance, falling by 15.36 per cent from N14.83 billion in Q1 2018 to N12.56 billion in Q3 2018 and 2.89 per cent year-on-year increase in operating expense to N66.20 billion in Q3 2018.

However, cost containment measures are underway with the digitization process contributing to quarter-on-quarter gains with OPEX declining 0.36 per cent from N22.07 billion in Q2, 2018 to N22.15 billion in Q3 2018.

Customer deposit dropped by eight per cent year-on year to N1.11 trillion due to re-pricing and non-rollover of high priced maturing deposits, and migration to government securities while liquidity position remains strong as current and savings account balances increased from 77.4 per cent in full year, 2017 to 78.08 per cent of total deposits in September 2018.

The bank said its retail and digital strategy has continued the expansion of financial inclusion programme with total number of banking agents rising to 70,052 in Q3 2018 across Diamond Y’ello, BETA and CLOSA product lines.

“Apart from the disbursed N1 billion to Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs), in partnership with Women’s World Banking as of September 30, 2018, the bank also Introduced SMEzone to the market, an information-sharing platform, aimed at positioning entrepreneurs for competitiveness while the sale of its UK subsidiary expected to be completed by year-end,” the bank said.

Speaking on the business, chief executive officer, Mr. Uzoma Dozie said, “The global economy is currently witnessing a shift in trade relations alongside continued interest rate adjustments.

“This has led to greater volatility across markets and increasingly fragile economies. Nigeria’s economy has not been immune to certain headwinds, so that while the economy recorded quarters of expansion, the rate of growth has weakened.”

He however said that, against this backdrop, the bank’s digital-led retail strategy has remained robust, saying that through this strategy we have been able to continue scaling up by reaching a wide pool of customers both cost effectively and efficiently.

He added that “as we move into the final quarter of the year, we expect headwinds to continue driven by emerging situations in developed economies as well as our domestic political realities.

“Despite this, our investors can expect a further decline in Non-Performing Loans (NPLs), a further increase in our digital footprint and completion of the sale of the UK subsidiary. Through these actions we remain optimistic about the medium to long term outlook of Diamond Bank and its return to strong profitability.”

Source: Leadership